TRAFFICchina.JPGWe doubt anyone noticed, but the air over Beijing should have been just a little bit cleaner today.

To celebrate World Environment Day, 283 members of the staff of the Olympic organising committee (Bocog) promised they would leave their car at home and take the bus or bike instead.

Another 78 said they would take Bocog's shuttle bus to go to work. The rest of the staff promised to drive one day less in the rest of the year.

When they decide on the day, we'll let you know as that is obviously the day to plan a sight-seeing trip to Beijing.

As organiser of the “Green Olympics” in Beijing, Bocog has to practice what it preaches. But I'm disappointed that Bocog does not take more of a lead and actively discourage private car usage by its employees — and not just one day a year.

Unlike in the west, car ownership is not yet instilled as a birth-right for urban Chinese, yet serious pollution and traffic snarl-ups are already common in big cities like Beijing. China needs to learn from the mistakes of the west before car usage does become too dominant and instead work on achieving a more balanced and integrated transportation system for its big cities.

Symbolic gestures like that made today are good as far as they go, but that is not very far, unfortunately.


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